Alva Review-Courier -

Nixon hosts first Tator Tot Memorial Roping Series rodeo


Ashley Strehl

Robbie Stearns of Freedom breaks the band to begin her run. Stearns won the event with a 29.5 and 18.41.

Man's best friend goes beyond a lifelong companionship. Tator Tot Nixon was a Freedom community well-known corgi owned by a Freedom High school '87 graduate and longtime community member, Kari Nixon, "There were two things that Tater Tot loved to do," Nixon told the Freedom Call, "and that was steer ropin' and eatin'."

In February, Tator Tot passed away, leaving a hole in the community and a hole in Nixon's' heart. So, in honor of Tator Tot, Nixon hosted the first Tator Tot Memorial Roping Series Friday, May 31, at 6 p.m. on Nixon's property north of town.

Ashley Strehl

Top left: Kari Nixon smiles as she rides her horse in her arena north of town. Top right: Gracie Gambino of Tyler, Texas, prepares to rope her calf. Her best time was 13.16 seconds, winning the first round. Bottom left: World Champion roper Kari Nixon goes after the calf. Her best time of the evening was 13.46 in the second round. Bottom right: Kari Nixon with her dog Tator Tot (photo provided by Kari Nixon).

Though small, this jackpot hosted by Nixon helps the three contestants, Nixon, Robbie Stearns of Freedom and Gracie Gambino of Tyler, Texas, earn points to determine a winner after the next two rodeos at the end of the year. Nixon was able to get these rodeos approved by the Woman's Professional Rodeo Association (WPRA), with whom Nixon has a credible reputation.

Since 1991, Nixon has won three world championships and numerous reserve world championships. She has also won more than nine Prairie Circuit Champion awards.

"There's not a lot of tie down roping that is held around here for the WPRA," Nixon said. "So, when there is one, everybody takes the opportunity. As far as women tie down ropers go, there aren't that many in this area." Nixon has had to travel to Texas, Missouri and Colorado in order to compete.

"He was a Welsh corgi, and it is their natural instinct to help on the farm," Nixon said. "He had no clue what he was doing but, man, he wanted to do it. I named him Tator Tot because he looked like a Tator Tot and he loved to eat tator tots."

"As long as an official can come and I can still rope, I want to do it every year," Nixon said. The next Tator Tot Memorial Roping Series rodeo will be July 12, and there will be another one on Aug. 9.


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